Illini men’s basketball takes down Terrapins to extend win streak to four games

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Photo Courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

Trent Frazier jumps with the ball beneath the basket during Illinois men’s basketball’s game against Maryland on Thursday at State Farm Center.

By Christian Jones, Staff Writer

Illinois faced off against Maryland on Thursday night at State Farm Center, with the Illini taking down the Terrapins, 76-64, to improve to 4-0 in conference play.

Alfonso Plummer scored the first bucket of the game, then Jacob Grandison banked in a three to make the lead 5-0, but Maryland quickly responded with a three of their own, put in by senior guard Eric Ayala.

Kofi Cockburn scored his first basket of the game two minutes into the first half off an assist from Grandison, and a Maryland turnover on the next play led to an Alfonso Plummer three, giving Illinois a 10-3 lead.

From there the Illini went on a 11-6 run over the next seven minutes, giving them a 21-7 lead over Maryland with 10:50 to go in the first half. 

The final basket in the run was scored by Cockburn, giving him seven points in the first half, but on the next possession he picked up his second foul and was yanked from the game by Illinois head coach Brad Underwood.

With Cockburn out of the game, the Illini struggled to score inside and out. Omar Payne could not recreate Cockburn’s production, and his lack of gravity left Illinois’ shooters heavily guarded.

As a result Maryland went on a 23-9 run, capped off by a Donta Scott putback dunk, which gave Maryland their first lead of the game at 32-30.

Scott would hit another jump shot with less than 41 seconds left in the half, giving him 15 points in the first.  

The Illini scored just nine points after Cockburn checked out with 10 minutes left in the half.

At the half the Terrapins led 34-30. Cockburn had just seven points in the first after picking up two early fouls and headed to the bench.

Maryland’s Hakim Hart opened the second half with a mid-range jumper, extending Maryland’s lead to six points, but Cockburn quickly got those two back, scoring the first points of the half for the Illini and his first points since the 11th minute of the first half.

Around the 16-minute mark in the second half, Julian Reese dunked on Kofi Cockburn and wrapped his legs around Cockburn while hanging on the rim excessively, but it didn’t result in a technical foul, much to the surprise of the State Farm Center crowd.

At 14:31 left in the second half, Ayala hit another three, giving Maryand a five-point lead on the Illini, but this would be Maryland’s last bucket for four and a half minutes.

Alfonso Plummer assisted Cockurn for his fifth basket of the night to start the Illinois run, followed by Da’Monte Williams, who added two on a layup. Trent Frazier then scored a contested layup which gave the Illini a 48-47 lead with 11:51 to go in the second half. 

Frazier followed up with back-to-back threes, putting Illinois up 54-47 before Maryland called a timeout. On the first three, Frazier started a drive and quickly stepped back, dropping his defender to his knees and sending the crowd into a frenzy. The second three was a quick pullup before the defense was set, capping off a 12-0 Illini run.

After Maryland’s Hakim Hart scored an and-one and made the free throw, Frazier hit another three, extending the Illini lead to seven. The teams traded misses on a few possessions before Cockburn was fouled at 8:16, and he would make one free throw.

Ayala added his third three of the night on the next possession. Cockburn would then score two baskets in the next four minutes: one dunk and one baby hook that rattled in. Plummer also hit a mid-range jumper, giving Illinois an 11-point lead, their largest lead since Cockburn went to the bench.

WIth five minutes to go in the half, Illinois led 66-55 and never looked back. Maryland would score just nine more points in the game, less than they would’ve needed if Illinois had not scored again.

Frazier capped off his 16-point scoring night with a stepback three at the top of the key, his fourth three of the night. Hart scored another basket for Maryland to make the score 76-64, and Illinois dribbled out the clock.

Cockburn finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds on 9-12 shooting. Frazier had Illinois’ next highest scoring total, followed by Plummer with 12 and Williams with nine.

Scott led Maryland in scoring with 17, but he scored just two points in the second half. Ayala scored 16, while Russell and Hart added 11 each.

 

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